Can I Run a 50K with Only 4 Days of Running a Week?

An ambitious new trail runner asks:

I recently got into trail running and am finding that a lot of the races I want to run are ultras. I’ve never run more than 20 miles—and I only did that once—but I’d like to give a 50K a try this spring. Think I can do it off of only running four days a week? 

You’re right that a lot of trail races are ultras, but there are also a lot of shorter trail races happening all over the country. For example, here in Huntsville, AL alone, we have 5K, 15K, and 25K trail races in addition to several 50Ks. It might be worthwhile to sign up for a couple of shorter races now, just to get a feel for what it’s like to run a trail race.

As for the spring 50K. ... Can you be prepared with four days a week of running? Of course you can! You have run 20 miles before—good news for you!

Here’s what I recommend:

Follow the same training plan you would follow for a marathon almost. You'll want to ...

run at least one trail run in training per week. And, make it your weekly long run.

If you are consistent with four days of training per week while making sure you do your long run, your body will no doubt be prepared for that 50K come spring.

And, finally, for confidence, build your long run up to 24 miles on the trail. The last seven will be no problem for you to complete on race day.

Good luck, and happy training!  

Interested in more articles about trail running? Check out these winter trail running tips now!

This question was answered by Dink Taylor.

Taylor is the owner of Fleet Feet Sports Huntsville, along with his wife, Suzanne. He is an experienced coach, and competitive ultra runner. He also directs a handful of trail races in Alabama every year.